ESL London tips - Don't miss out on what the city has to offer!

Pick up Time Out magazine to find out what’s on
Time Out magazine is the first place to look for anything that’s happening in London. It is published weekly and includes thorough listings for all corners of London. You can pick it up at newsagents and shops across the city. You can also sign up for free email alerts on the Time Out website before you arrive for your English course in London to give yourself a head-start when planning what to see and do!
ESL - ESL London tips
Get an Oyster Card
The London Underground is the world’s oldest metro system. It is also one of the most expensive, but you can save money by purchasing an Oyster Card. The card can be purchased at any tube station and topped-up at ticket machines. You swipe it over a sensor at ticket barriers at the start and end of your journey and the cheapest possible fare is taken off your account. If you intend to travel outside of London on the train, you can save up to 60% if you book your journey online more than a week before from websites like
ESL - ESL London tips
Try a pub quiz (and practice your English)
The "pub" (short for "public house") plays a big role in many Londoners' social lives, as it has done for centuries. You will find some pubs in London that have been going since the days of Shakespeare, particularly near the South Bank of the Thames in Central London. Wimbledon village, Hampstead, and Highgate are also known for great pubs. One longstanding tradition is the Pub Quiz, where contestants form teams to answer a series of questions set by the "quizmaster". It’s fun for English learners and there is usually a good atmosphere, but you may find questions about British television from the 1980s challenging! Remember, it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part.
Hire a “Boris Bike”
London’s bike hire scheme has been a great success since it was launched in 2010. The scheme was supposed to be named after the bank that sponsored it, but Londoners refer to the bikes as "Boris Bikes" after London former mayor Boris Johnson. You can pay for access at any docking station with a credit or debit card (but watch out for those foreign payment charges that many banks charge).
ESL - ESL London tips
Try authentic Indian food
The English national dish is not fish and chips, as you might imagine, but the Chicken Tikka Masala: a fairly mild, creamy dish based loosely on traditional Indian cuisine. For a taste of real Indian cuisine, a couple of places in London stand out. By Euston Station, Drummond Street has a number of superb Indian sweet shops and restaurants, many of which are vegetarian. Brick Lane, in the East End, has a massive range of restaurants for all budgets and tastes, not limited to Indian cuisine. Alternatively, Chinatown (around Gerrard Street near Covent Garden) is awash with bright colours and bold flavours, but the menus can be indecipherable!
ESL - ESL London tips
To watch, read, listen
Match Point (2005) Director: Woody Allen
An Education (2009) Director: Lone Scherfig
Notting Hill (1999) Director: Roger Mitchell

(Or, to see a post-apocalyptic London inhabited by zombies, you could try 28 Days Later (2002) Director: Danny Boyle)

London cinemas: The Odeon in Leicester Square is famous for hosting film premiers that attract the biggest Hollywood stars. You can get tickets for normal screenings there but it is more expensive than almost any other London cinema. Just around the corner, the Prince Charles Cinema ( is an independent alternative described as “Mecca... for lovers of quality films” by Quentin Tarantino. The BFI IMAX at London Bridge has Britain’s largest screen and offers a unique experience. Or for something different, sign up for Secret Cinema (on the website to find out about monthly secret screenings in unusual locations around the city.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
London Calling by The Clash
Fabriclive Series by various artists
The Libertines by The Libertines

London Music Venues: Some of London’s best, and most eclectic music/arts venues are XoYo ( and The Old Blue Last ( in Shoreditch and KoKo ( in Camden. The Lock Tavern ( is a pub that’s famous for attracting top DJs while the Big Chill Bar ( in Shoreditch is a great place to, well, chill. Ronnie Scott’s ( in Soho and Charlie Wright’s ( in Hoxton are great for blues and jazz artists. Charlie Wright’s brews its own beer! The bars around Portobello Road are good for afrobeat and the “world music” that doesn’t fit into other genres.

Bigger London venues include the O2 Arena ( in Greenwich, The Brixton Academy ( in South London and the Kentish Town Forum ( which is near Highgate. Pick up a copy of Time Out magazine to find out what’s going on.
ESL - ESL London tips
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